published 23 Nov 2014
in category with
Jeannie is a lady in her fifties with little independent movement and very little sight. She responds to being touched by hitting her head – hard.
Jeannie doesn’t use words, but does make sounds and sometimes seems to relax when we sing. What we might do is ‘echo’ her sounds back to her, letting her know that we’ve noticed her and are responding in her language. This can develop into a conversation without words, playing with volume and pitch and pauses. Jeannie can become more confident at this stage and may even let us touch her hand or ruffle her hair – sometimes she’ll even let us massage her feet with aromatherapy oils.
On another occasion we might sing a song that we’ve noticed Jeannie has relaxed to before. But we want to make this an interactive experience to help Jeannie get the message that that she can be in charge of what we do together. So what we do is pause after the first verse and tell her that when she makes a sound, we’ll know she wants us to carry on. When we first did this we didn’t know whether Jeannie would understand, or whether her sounds would be random or deliberate. Now her responses are clear and consistent; she looks alert and leans forward at the end of each verse and we are sure she knows she is in charge of our singing. This can be an empowering experience and it’s what we are aiming for with all our clients, whatever activity we are sharing.
Some names have been changed to protect confidentiality but otherwise these are all real life example of our work.